(Last Updated on : 20/12/2014)
Vallamkali or boat race
is one of the most popular and ancient sports in the Kerala state of India
. The people of Kerala enjoy this wonderful game during the colourful and joyous festival of "Onam
". This traditional sport
is a form of canoe racing, and uses paddled war canoes. The game includes races of many kinds of paddled longboats, the traditional boats of Kerala. The race of Chundan Vallam or snake boat is the most popular game. Vallam Kali is also known as the Snake Boat Race. The boat races held during the festival attracts millions of people from all over India and also from other countries.
History of Vallamkali
This traditional art originated in Assyria, on a New Year's Day in 300 BC. It was also organised by several ancient Indian states. In the South Indian state of Kerala, during an early 14th-century war between the feudal kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Chembakassery, King Devanarayana of Chembakassery commissioned the construction of a war boat called Chundan Vallam. He assigned a notable carpenter to create the boat. These snake boats are believed to be around 650 years old. Among all the snake boats, the Parthasarathi Chundan is the oldest model.
Celebration of Vallamkali
The Vallamkali or snake boat race in Kerala is mainly held in connection with the harvest festival, Onam, during the month of August or September. More than 30 wonderfully crafted snake boats compete with each other during the event. The distance of the race is 40 km and it is mainly conducted from the hills to the low-lying plains.
Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam, Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam are the other types of boats which participate in various events in the race. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is one of the famous Vallam Kali events organised in the Punnamada Lake
near Alappuzha, Kerala.
The people of Kerala also enjoy some of the other forms of cultural functions before the starting of the Vallamkali and some colourful parades, including 25 singers and 100- 125 oarsmen are organized before the race. Though the Vallamkali or boat race is played in all the parts of Kerala, the places like Aranmula on the Pamba River
in the Kuttanad
region, Papiyad near Quilon, and Thayathangadi near Kottayam, are quite popular for organizing the most attractive races.